Nigeria’s First Lady Announces N950m Package For Military, Police Retirees, Others.
In its fifth and sixth lines, the first stanza of Nigeria’s national anthem invokes ‘the labour of our heroes past,’ which, they confidently affirm, ‘shall never be in vain.’
As noble as those sentiments are, however, they have, over the years been observed only in the breach, as relevant stakeholders – including policymakers at all levels – have been more upfront in paying lip service to the idea of honouring those who have passed their prime, but whose dedicated service to our country and to their communities has kept our society going. Secondly, when we, as a society, talk about our heroes past, we seem to underline the word, ‘PAST’ (as if we ran out of heroes with the passing of titans like the Azikiwes, the Awolowos and the Sardaunas, etc. of this world.
The reality, however, is that heroism is still being forged in the crucible of our society even now – on a daily basis, in fact. Nowhere is this truer than in the area of public service – and in particular, in the armed services and the law enforcement agencies. The men and women of the military, the police and the paramilitary services have over the years, worked (in many cases against fearsome odds) to protect our lives and property, and to generally keep us safe. Some have even paid the supreme sacrifice in the process – with scant appreciation from the system or the generality of their compatriots for their trouble.
Thankfully, though, there has, in recent years, been a pushback to this narrative of benign neglect on the part of relevant stakeholders – especially public-spirited persons, corporate establishments, NGOs, faith-based organizations and high networth individuals.
The latest of such individuals is a lady whose empathy with society’s most vulnerable individuals and groups (as both political player and political spouse) is well-known and long-standing. As already noted elsewhere, Sen. (Mrs.) Oluremi Tinubu’s impetus for service comes from a place that sees her life and privileged positions not just as a blessing but also as a burden which can be alleviated only by the giving of oneself to the needs of others.
Seen in that light, her recent announcement of a N950m (nine hundred and fifty million naira) economic empowerment package for 250 retirees from the police and military, is very much in character. She announced the package at the formal launch of the maiden edition of the Renewed Hope Initiative (RHI) Elderly Support for persons aged 65 years and above, in Abuja, the federal capital. Each of the beneficiaries, she disclosed, would receive N100,000 (one hundred thousand naira). She expressed confidence that the empowerment programme, which will span the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory will go a long way to cushion the effect on senior citizens of the country’s present economic situation. Veterans of military and police officers wives’ associations are also included in the largesse.
The programme, she added during the launching ceremony, was borne out of her steadfast commitment to the well-being of senior citizens in the country. “It marks a significant stride in our collective pursuit of a more inclusive and compassionate society.”
The amount, as approved by the Governing Board of the Renewed Hope Initiative, means that each state of the federation and the FCT would be given N25m (twenty-five million naira) for the disbursement to said beneficiaries.
“We are committed to ensuring that each state benefits from this gesture without discrimination,” the First Lady said, adding that by reaching out to the elderly, especially during the festive holiday period, “we not only honour their contributions, but also acknowledge the unique encounters they face.”
The yuletide period, she said, should be a time of joy and comfort for all, “even as we hope for a greater Nigeria, a Nigeria of security, education, health, employment, and business opportunities for all.” The quest for these ideal conditions, she stressed, behooves on all Nigerians to rally behind the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as it strives to actualize the Renewed Hope mandate that ushered it into office and erect the building-blocks for a more prosperous and secure future for Nigerians.
Sen. Tinubu also paid tribute to all the state coordinators and partners of the Renewed Hope Initiative (RHI) who, she said, have supported the scheme with free medical screening and the distribution of sundry items to beneficiaries in ensuring the programme’s success.
Even as the government (with the support of all relevant stakeholders and developmental partners across the nation and beyond its borders) navigates the issues of sustainable development in order to deliver positive socio-economic outcomes to the people, the First Lady advised senior citizens to, in the meantime, embrace life to the fullest, prioritise their health, nurture their minds, and strengthen their bonds with loved ones and with God – as these, she asserted, were the keys to a rich and fulfilling life as one enters the golden years.
The launch ceremony was graced by, among other important dignitaries, Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Christopher Musa, who was represented by the Director of Veteran Affairs at Defence Headquarters, Abuja, Maj. Gen. Danladi Saliu. The CDS’s remarks put the First Lady’s gesture in context: Her effort in bringing succour to our aged heroes, he said, would also motivate those still in service to give of their very best. History, he added, would be kind to the First Lady in this regard. “This noble act,” he said, “is one for which you will forever be remembered. Posterity will judge you fairly for repeatedly bringing renewed hope to the members of the armed forces and their families. This will have a multiplier effect on the morale and efficiency of the serving members of the armed forces”.
The CDS is right; with this gesture, also, our retirees from the uniformed will have joined the ranks of First Lady’s traditional constituencies – namely, women, young people, and the groups (or coalitions of groups) that represent them – who can, henceforth, beat their collective chest and say they have a friend in high places – in the person of Sen. Oluremi Tinubu, CON.
Coming as it does at yuletide – a season of love and sharing in both tangible and intangible terms – Mrs. Tinubu’s thoughtful gesture gains added significance in that, apart from bringing relief to its beneficiaries, it will give them the added psychological boost of knowing that even in their twilight years, they are not forgotten; rather, they are still cherished and valued, and their contributions are still respected.
Like the ‘heroes past’ of which we sing so lustily in our national anthem, they are the heroes PRESENT – whose labour, far from being in vain, will form the lodestone upon which the heroes of TOMORROW will make, structure and scale up the contributions that will keep our families and communities vibrant, and our nation safe, strong and united.